The prison is situated in the city of Kandy in the Central Province and was built in 1876 by the British Ceylon Government under instructions of Inspector General Of Prisons and Police N. R. Saunders. It was used to house serious offenders and death row prisoners. The complex which has gallows is one of the two prisons in Sri Lanka where the death penalty was implemented. The gallows were shifted from Hangman’s Hill to Bogambara in 1876. The building is one of the oldest existing building in the world heritage city of Kandy, and is considered to be a rich archaeological landmark. It is also believed the construction of the Prison has been done similar to that of the Bastille. The prison was administered by the Department of Prisons.
In an effort to expand the prison network in the country and improve prison conditions the Sri Lankan government decided, in 2013, to permanently close the complex. Serving inmates were transferred to a new prison complex in Pallekele. A few months earlier the Department of Prisons also closed the Bogambara remand prison, aiming to conserve the historic building of the Kandyan Kingdom. The prison closed operations on 1 January 2014 with the properties and belongings of the Prison handed over to President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Bogambara prison is to be used for commercial purposes as a historical building and would be opened to the public for viewing.